UK & World News

  • 22 December 2013, 19:05

Twitter Aids Row: 'Insensitive' PR Woman Sorry

A PR executive who sparked a row after "carelessly" tweeting about Aids in Africa as she headed to the continent has apologised for her insensitivity, saying she is "ashamed".

American Justine Sacco was sacked over the message from her Twitter account that read: "Going to Africa. Hope I don't get Aids. Just kidding. I'm white!"

The tweet, reportedly sent as she boarded a plane from London to South Africa, quickly spread on the microblogging site, with social media users expressing their disgust.

The controversy apparently erupted while Ms Sacco was on the plane with no internet access and she started trending.

Her account has now been deleted.

Ms Sacco, who was fired from her job at internet giant InterActive Corp, which owns popular websites like,, and Vimeo, has released a statement.

It read: "Words cannot express how sorry I am, and how necessary it is for me to apologise to the people of South Africa, who I have offended due to a needless and careless tweet.

"There is an Aids crisis taking place in this country, that we read about in America, but do not live with or face on a continuous basis.

"Unfortunately, it is terribly easy to be cavalier about an epidemic that one has never witnessed firsthand.

"For being insensitive to this crisis - which does not discriminate by race, gender or sexual orientation, but which terrifies us all uniformly - and to the millions of people living with the virus, I am ashamed.

"This is my father's country, and I was born here. I cherish my ties to South Africa and my frequent visits, but I am in anguish knowing that my remarks have caused pain to so many people here; my family, friends and fellow South Africans.

"I am very sorry for the pain I caused."

InterActive Corp issued a statement on Saturday distancing itself from the tweet and saying the employee was fired.

"There is no excuse for the hateful statements that have been made and we condemn them unequivocally," it said.

"We hope, however, that time and action, and the forgiving human spirit, will not result in the wholesale condemnation of an individual who we have otherwise known to be a decent person at core."

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